Early Landscapes: 1968 – 1978
November 7 - December 24, 2009
Gallery Luisotti is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition Frank Gohlke: Early Landscapes 1968 – 1978. Known as one of the seminal figures of the New Topographic movement emerging in the 1970s, Gohlke presents key images and series, including the rarely seen Middlebury suite- in his first solo exhibition with the gallery. At once documentary in its seemingly threadbare presentation of the landscape, Gohlke’s work can in some ways be also seen as the artist’s life-long inquiry on the idea of the sublime in nature, using this Enlightenment-era notion of terror and beauty as a visual narrative to view his images.
While a graduate student in English at Yale, Gohlke came under the influence of the photographer Walker Evans, and later, the landscape photographer Paul Capogniro. Quickly transitioning from a career in the academe into photography thereafter, Gohlke began photographing the everyday world around him, first of the urban environment of and near New Haven, and soon then to the small college town of Middlebury, Vermont. The Middlebury images stands as a body of work granting a beginning glimpse to Gohlke’s lifelong preoccupations with the human element in nature, displayed neither as an edict against or for society’s imprint on the landscape. Neither is it an overly romanticized view of the environment; building walls, long stretches of road, and imperfect landscapes are detailed on equal terms. By rendering the world as finite gestures left on the seemingly infinite scale of nature, Gohlke’s work insists the inclusion of human emotions as part and parcel to the template of the landscape.
The Middlebury works are a touchstone to his subsequent works of the 1970s, including the works concurrently on display at the New Topographics exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the recreation of the seminal 1975 New Topographics exhibition at the George Eastman House. Approaching the imagery to his works with a subtly pronounced, pictorial remove, the corpus of the 1970s works detail a fluid refinement of Gohlke’s practice, one that took place through a restless sojourn through the continental United States, from the Midwest to the south, to California to the East coast. Gohlke will present works in the gallery that highlight the seventies works as an overview of his concerns, one that separates his imagery into the urban, the suburban, and the landscape. In conjunction with both the LACMA and the gallery show, the release of Gohlke’s book Thoughts on Landscape: Collected Writings and Interviews (Hol Arts Books) will be available to the public.